The Green Bay Packers First Downs for Trees program, currently in its fourth year, donated a total of 720 trees to 18 local communities in 2014 based on the team's 351 first downs last season.
The occasion was marked by planting trees in front of the Lambeau Field Atrium on Thursday, May 29.
First Downs for Trees is a cooperative effort with the Packers,Green Bay Packaging Inc., SCA, the U.S. Forest Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Public Service. One of the Packers' Green Team initiatives, the program donates trees to participating Brown County communities based on the number of first downs scored by the Packers in the previous season.
Last year, the program received a $48,000, two-year grant from the U.S. Forest Service as a part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which was added to the existing support by the Packers, Green Bay Packaging and SCA. With the additional grant money, the program was able to plant more trees for each first down earned during the regular season. This is the third year that the U.S. Forest Service has been involved with the program.
Six nurseries, McKay Nursery in Waterloo, Meacham Nursery in Green Bay, Midpark Nursery in Fond du Lac, Schichtel's Nursery in Springville, N.Y., Silver Creek Nursery in Manitowoc and Tillman Wholesale Growers in Green Bay provided the trees. A combination of elm, linden, lilac, oak, honey locust and flowering crab trees are among the species that were planted.
The 18 communities that received the trees were Allouez, Ashwaubenon, Bellevue, De Pere, Green Bay, Hobart, Howard, Lawrence, Ledgeview, Morrison, Pittsfield, Pulaski, Scott, Suamico, Wrightstown (village and town), Brown County and the Oneida Tribe.
"The Packers and our partners, Green Bay Packaging and SCA, are excited to support our local communities again with trees from the program," said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. "With 720 additional trees planted this year, we're pleased to know that we're having a positive impact on reducing our carbon footprint."
More than $75,000 has been donated to the Wisconsin DNR since the inception of the program.
First Downs for Trees complements the team's recycling and landfill diversion programs at Lambeau Field by targeting the carbon emitted by the Packers' air charters to road games, which is approximately 450 tons in a year.
Since 2011, more than 2,700 Packers trees have been planted, providing total lifetime benefits of more than $13 million through stormwater runoff reduction, CO2 reduction, energy savings, air quality improvement and property value increase. Over their lifetime, the tree benefits exceed the costs of planting and care, representing a 300 percent return on investment. Tree benefits increase over time, highlighting the importance of not only planting trees, but of providing ongoing maintenance and protection.